Breast implants linked to rare form of cancer in women

Breast implants linked to rare cancer in women


Health authorities from Victoria’s leading healthcare body Safer Care Victoria, have this week issued a public safety notice for women who have had breast implants after a link was found to a rare type of cancer.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), an immune system, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, has been detected in a small number of women who have had breast reconstruction procedures, with cases of the cancer developing between three to 14 years following the implant surgery. The cancer cells are said to grow in the fluid and scar tissues which develop around the implant. 

Safer Care Victoria are urging women who have undergone the procedure to observe for swelling caused by fluids around the implant, as well as pain, rashes or lumps on the breasts. 


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“Please speak to your GP immediately if you notice a change, as this cancer is highly curable if diagnosed and treated early,” Safer Care Victoria expressed in a statement.

“If you don’t have symptoms, there is no need to remove your implants. Removal of implants, as well as the use of anaesthetics, come with a surgical risk.”

Health experts claim the risk of BIA-ALCL depends on the type of breast implant, and estimate that cases occur between one in 1000 to one in 10,000 patients. 

In Victoria, between 5000 and 6000 breast implant or reconstruction procedures are undertaken on average each year.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, the medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency of the Australian Government, record roughly 76 cases of BIA-ALCL nationally. Sixteen of those cases were from Victoria.

In the U.S, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially found a possible link between breast implants and cancer in 2011.  In the country, the ALCL has an annual incidence of 0.25 cases per 100,000 people. A 2018 study found a link between breast implants and increased risk of BIA-ALCL. 

A year later, the FDA alerted healthcare providers about a link between all breast implants. The agency informed doctors of 573 cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide, including 33 deaths. 

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